Case Information: Shew, et al. v. Malloy, et al., No. 14-319 (2d Cir., Amicus Brief filed August 21, 2014)
At Issue: This case challenges the constitutionality of Connecticut’s assault weapon and large capacity ammunition magazine ban. This lawsuit, filed by a gun lobby group and several private individuals, challenges the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act (“the Act”), which was passed in direct response to the tragic elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The Act strengthened Connecticut’s ban on these dangerous weapons by–among other things–broadening the definition of an assault weapon to include guns with characteristics that enable the firing of hundreds of bullets per minute, aid in the commission of mass murders and assaults, or facilitate the weapon’s concealment. The Act also banned the possession of large capacity ammunition magazines, which allow mass shooters to file dozens and dozens of bullets without pausing to reload. The plaintiffs in this lawsuit make the radical claim that the Second Amendment protects a “right” to own assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines and that Connecticut’s laws regulating these dangerous weapons are unconstitutional.
The Law Center’s Brief: Our Second Circuit brief, joined by Connecticut Against Gun Violence, and Cleveland School Remembers, argues that the Second Amendment, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, does not protect a right to own weapons that are designed for a battlefield and have no connection to lawful self-defense in the home. Every court which has considered challenges to laws banning assault weapons or high capacity magazines since the Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, has upheld those laws. Finally, the brief argues that, even if the Second Amendment does protect these dangerous weapons, their regulation is still constitutional under intermediate scrutiny—the level of review overwhelming applied to Second Amendment claims—because such regulation is reasonably related to Connecticut’s important interest in protecting public safety and reducing crime.